Speech by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba, during the political-cultural event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America-Peoples Trade Agreement, at the University of Havana’s Grand Stairway, December 14, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution
(Transcript: Presidency of the Republic)
This event is turned around: Maduro, Ralf and Daniel spoke just a bit and now I am going to have to speak a little more. (Laughter)
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee;
Dear ALBA-TCP heads of state and government;
Dear heads of delegations and guests:
Students of our universities, the present and future of the Cuban nation. To you and to all young people of Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean, we address you today!
We have come here, to our glorious Grand Stairway, to celebrate 15 years of ALBA-TCP, because this alliance has its roots in the first meeting of two giants of Our America: the Comandante en jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, and the then (young) leader of the Bolivarian Movement 200, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.
That meeting, which changed the history of Latin America and the Caribbean and impacted the world, took place December 13-15, 1994.
As is occurring today, we were living complex, uncertain days for the region and the world. And it was here nearby, in the University of Havana’s Aula Magna, where for the first time the analyses and premonitory proposals were heard of what, with time, joint effort, and the advance of progressive governments, would emerge in 2004 as this paradigm of solidary integration that we know as ALBA-TCP.
We also choose the Stairway, the door to our University, one of the oldest in America, because the present and future of Cuba and much of the rest of the world pass through here every day, young people from sister nations, students who share classrooms and dreams with our sons and daughters.
We firmly believe that universities cannot be disconnected from our world or its pressing problems. Here Fidel became a revolutionary, here he spoke to his Latin American contemporaries, with Hugo Chávez, here we study and think about the best possible world that we revolutionaries have set out to set our minds to winning.
Sisters and brothers:
Exactly one year ago, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America met with the objective of establishing common positions in the face of the evident intensification of aggression against our nations. The forecasts of that moment were not exaggerated.
The government of the United States and its allies launched, and insist on continuing, a ferocious, unscrupulous destabilization campaign in the region.
They are doing so by resuming the brutal application of the Monroe Doctrine, to which the current administration in Washington has openly and arrogantly committed itself.
They have escalated their actions against the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, violating the most elementary principles of international law. They have gone so far as to designate who can speak on behalf of Venezuela and make decisions on the country’s funds and real estate outside its territory. Never before in history has democracy been so offended, speaking in the name of democracy while trampling it.
The recent invocation against Venezuela of the obsolete Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) – which never served to safeguard the interests of the region – is another warning that peace, democracy and security are being threatened.
What else is the purpose of reviving an institution like TIAR, which backed coups, established military dictatorships and was unable to support one of its members when an extra-regional power occupied its territory and unleashed a war?
The United States coordinated attacks on the homeland of Bolívar and Chávez without understanding that the determination of its people is strengthened even more in the face of foreign aggression. They failed and will continue to fail before the solid civil-military union and the courage of millions of Venezuelans, who have always sworn to be loyal, and never traitors. (Applause)
Here is our brother Nicolás Maduro, representing that victorious, firm union.
Long live the Bolivarian Revolution! (Exclamations of: Viva!)
We reiterate our solidarity with the Sandinista Popular Revolution, which with its president at the forefront, Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra, is resisting imperial attacks on Nicaragua, despite the threats, and advancing on the path of reconciliation, peace and just development for its country.
Long live the Sandinista Revolution! (Exclamations of: Viva!)
We celebrate the release of the Brazilian workers’ leader and former President of that country, compañero Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, and at the same time we call on everyone to continue demanding his full freedom, the recognition of his innocence and the restitution of all his political rights.
Despite imperial conspiracies and the politicization of judicial systems, corruption, and the discrediting of politics by agents of imperialism, neoliberalism and the media, Lula’s example shows that we will always find a way to fight for truth, dignity and solidarity in order to defeat lies.
Bolivia, the absent brother, deserves special mention.
The coup against constitutional President Evo Morales Ayma confirmed that the United States and reactionary forces do not hesitate to violate, by any means, the people’s freedoms and human rights to reverse emancipatory processes in the region. As always, they used their faithful pawn: the Organization of American States (OAS).
It is no surprise that the first foreign policy move by the coup plotters in Bolivia, following the imperialists’ script, was to leave ALBA.
In countries like Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, we watch with pain and indignation as the number of deaths rises and injuries reach thousands, with eye injuries increasing to hundreds of young people, as a result of repression as brutal as that we remember from the dark days of military dictatorships. Social activists, journalists and former guerrillas are murdered. Cases of violence, torture and rape of detainees now number in the hundreds.
Several of the military and police authorities who today are the protagonists of this horrible repression were trained at the now defunct School of the Americas. Those who persecute leftist and progressive leaders were trained in the current International Academy for Law Enforcement, also made in the USA.
Day by day, we follow with admiration the dramatic course of the people’s resistance and the growing mobilizations.
From this podium, we emphatically denounce the complicit, shameful silence of many, the distortion and cover-up of what occurred in Bolivia by the corporate, oligarchic media.
And here today, Cuba reaffirms our support and solidarity with compañero Evo Morales Ayma. (Applause) Long live the governments and peoples who uphold dignity and sovereignty by welcoming and supporting the persecuted leaders! (Exclamations of: Vivan!)
Our health personnel who served in Bolivia are closely acquainted with the brutality of the coup plotters, whose repressive forces, led directly by the United States, physically assaulted two collaborators, while 54 were unjustly detained, some for several days.
Members of the Cuban Medical Brigade were, for absolutely no reason, humiliated, searched and stripped of their belongings. The coup authorities incited hatred against Cubans.
The cowardice of these repressors contrasted sharply with the dignity and courage of our self-sacrificing professionals, who deserve recognition for their unwavering stance, a product of Cuba’s internationalist tradition. (Applause)
They are all back, ready to defend the homeland, and take on the next mission.
The events that have transpired in Bolivia sound the alarm and alert us. Once again “the tiger lurks,” as Martí said in his magnificent essay Our America:
“The colony continued to live within the republic; and our America is being saved from its great errors (…) by the superior virtue, fertilized with necessary blood, of the republic that fights against the colony. The tiger waits, behind every tree, crouched in every corner”.
In our recent visit to Argentina, to attend the inauguration of Alberto and Cristina, we held a valuable dialogue with important intellectuals and artists in that country.
From all of them, we heard the most formidable criticism of neoliberalism “the tiger that lurks” and its serious consequences for the peoples of America that have been destroyed by neoliberal experiments.
Argentine filmmaker and current Minister of Culture Tristán Bauer has just documented the serious social costs of neoliberalism in the four years of the Macri administration, in a documentary titled: Tierra arrasada.
Others present recalled that these processes are supported by a powerful media network that progressive projects must confront in an unequal battle. And proposals were made to promote a kind of cultural strategy that addresses this asymmetry.
What remains of the colonial mentality in America must disappear before our peoples disappear, with their dreams of emancipation and integration, postponed since Bolivar’s times.
It is essential to disseminate ideas and values to defend our conquests. And it is also necessary to join together in the area of communication so that the colonial mentality does not engulf us with its ammunition of false symbols, like the mirrors that the conquerors gave to our noble, original inhabitants, in exchange for the natural wealth with which they have built their power.
The magnificent ideas that were presented in just two hours, during the meeting with Argentine friends, confirm the enormous potential of the imaginative Latin American intelligentsia, whose best exponents have always been allies in the battle for social justice.
Compañeras and compañeros:
Even in the face of the most brutal U.S. pressure, Cuba won a resounding victory at the United Nations, when 187 countries voted in favor of our resolution condemning the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade.
Those who did not have the courage to resist U.S. pressure and did not dare to condemn the blockade of Cuba bear the responsibility of supporting a policy that no people on earth approves, because it is criminal, because it violates the human rights of millions, because it is extraterritorial, illegal and outrageous.
And because what they are doing to Cuba, today, they will do tomorrow to other nations, as has been proven more than once in recent years. No one is exempt from the empire’s whip, and to allow others to be beaten is to open the way to lashings for all.
We are pleased to know that this attitude does not reflect what the fraternal peoples of Brazil and Colombia truly feel.
In victories such as the UN condemnation of the blockade, ALBA has been and must continue to be a front of unity and resistance to the empire, to coups and to interventionist positions that shame the honorable men and women of our continent.
Likewise, we salute and are encouraged by progressive victories in Mexico and Argentina, where new governments have already shown, in a very short period, their commitment to peace, democracy, development and social justice for the peoples, and to the genuine unity and integration of Our America.
In recent months we have heard ridiculous accusations of the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions, in a malicious attempt to justify what they refuse to understand: the profound reasons for popular revolts against neoliberalism that continue to take place in several countries of the region. They do not surprise us.
The popular demonstrations are the result of struggles against inequality and social injustices accumulated over the years. And they are here to stay, and will increase if their causes are not addressed.
Those who repress refuse to see in these demonstrations the real causes, because, in order to maintain power, neoliberalism attempts to prevent us from developing historical consciousness, pushing the “de-historization” of time. That is why ideologues, like Francis Fukuyama, insist that history has ended.
They try to tell us that capitalism is eternal. So, they want to perpetuate social inequality, misery, exclusion. Time is history! And ours is based on Bolívar, San Martín, Sucre, Martí, Che, Fidel, Chávez, Sandino, the struggle against slavery, against Spanish domination, against invasions and against the blockade of Cuba by genocidal imperialism.
Neoliberalism has forced the world economy to move from production to speculation. While the world Gross Domestic Product is growing at an annual average of 1% to 2%, financial profits grows more than 5% a year. While eight hundred and twenty million people are threatened with death by hunger, twenty trillion dollars are stashed in tax havens!
Neoliberalism produces what Marx foresaw: people have no value as human being, but on the basis of the commodities they hold. This is brutal dehumanization.
Neoliberalism does not promote globalization, but global colonization. Its purpose is to make the world a great market to which only the rich have access, the rest are excluded; they are disposable beings, condemned to an early death.
Neoliberalism is based on competition, socialism on solidarity. Neoliberalism in the private accumulation of wealth; socialism in the sharing of wealth. Neoliberalism in defending the interests of capital; socialism, human rights and those of nature.
The United States and the Latin American oligarchies cannot forgive us for constructing models that are inclusive and committed to the people despite pressure and the sieges of sanctions and blockades.
We can give them the formula: We don’t build models for the 1%. We don’t build exclusion models. We are building solidarity models and practicing integration. (Applause)
And we are not forgiven for uniting in solidarity as Latin Americans and Caribbeans without imperial tutelage.
They do not forgive us not only for choosing to assert independence, freedom, sovereignty over our resources and self-determination, but also for demonstrating that we are capable of defending this choice.
They do not forgive Cuba for defending the philosophy of sharing in solidarity what we have, of taking health and literacy where others bring weapons, of teaching people to read and write, or restoring sight and saving the lives of those who have never had quality health services.
Now, when in some countries Cuban cooperation has been interrupted, as a result of imperialist and oligarchic conspiracies, we note with concern that millions of Latin Americans have been stripped of their human right to health. The oligarchies don’t care and they bend under pressure from the pathological Yankee campaign.
The only military and security forces that interfere in the internal affairs of countries and threaten Latin America and the Caribbean are those of the United States.
Cuba will resist all threats. We have been hardened in the struggle. We have a united people. We count on the solidarity of the world, of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, and especially of our brothers and sisters in ALBA.
We will not renounce socialism! We will not renounce solidarity! We will not renounce friendship! We will not renounce dignity! (Applause)
I reiterate the embrace of this noble, courageous and solidary people, in this beautiful city that has just completed 500 years of history and struggle. A city to which you can always return to receive the affection of those who do not surrender, will not surrender, and will continue the vibrant Revolution that brought us thus far.
Let us conclude as such events always do, on this historic stairway, with a celebration of life, of the future that is prepared here to make possible the better world for which so many generations have given their blood and their very lives.
We are Cuba!
And we are also Latin America and the Caribbean, all united by ALBA-TCP!
Always onward to victory!